I am lucky enough, with this blog, to have readers from every corner of the world; and, depending on where you live and the news you get to see, you may or may not know about the tragedy in Fort McMurray, Alberta.
When residents woke up last Tuesday morning the sky was blue, but some smoke, from forest fires, could be seen in the distance. By the afternoon the city was engulfed in flames and the 80,000 people who live there had to be evacuated.
The damage is extensive, lives have been taken and lives have been ruined. It is a tragedy of epic proportions.
Equally epic, is the way in which Canadians reacted. From large corporations to individuals who quickly and reflexively reached out to help strangers, I’ve watched in admiration and awe as something beautiful has emerged from all the devastation:
Alex Neary is a photographer (Wildeyed Photography). She was due to shoot a wedding last weekend. The couple, who were getting married in Toronto, are originally from Cape Breton, but now live and work in Fort McMurray.
When they ran for their very lives, they were forced to leave everything behind, including the bride’s wedding dress. Alex decided to help and immediately posted, on social media, asking if anyone had one they’d be willing to donate.
Within a couple of hours she had hundreds of offers, including one from the Lea-Ann Belter Bridal shop who, in the end, gave the bride two dresses, the one she loved and the one her mom loved.
Labatt Breweries, one of Canada’s founding businesses and oldest brewers, also immediately sprang into action. Halting their production of beer, instead, they filled 200,000 cans with water and shipped them to Fort McMurray so the firefighters and evacuees could have safe drinking water. They say they have more, if needed.
Two airlines, Canadian North Air and West Jet are allowing people fleeing to bring their pets onboard, regardless of how big or small those pets might be. Or how many. A photo I saw looked more like Noah’s Arc than the cabin of an aircraft. This, by the way, in response to horror stories of people who were forced to leave their animals behind in the raging inferno.
And perhaps most touching, is the generosity and compassion being shown by a group of Syrian refugees who were recently welcomed to Canada. They know all too well what it is like to be forced to leave your homeland with nothing; and, to show their gratitude to Canada for taking them in, they are donating what little they have to those in need.
These are just some of the good and great deeds, there are so many more. And what makes me the proudest, is that these gestures are done quietly, with no fanfare. The glory is in the giving. Typical Canada.